“That’s it!” Jake shouted. Hisface was red. “You don’t give a fuck about me!” The analogue clock on the wallshowed 3pm. The maroon curtains had been opened and sunlight filtered through thenet curtains. Jake’s stood on the underlay in white boxer shorts.
His mother’s face appearedconfused as she looked at the thirteen-year-old. “I don’t understand why youwould say that. I do care about you.” She fiddled with her dress as she spoke –white with yellow dots. Her hair was tied in a bun.”No you don’t!” Jake screamed.”You wouldn’t have treated me like this if you did!”The anger had been unexpected.Jake’s mother couldn’t fathom any reason for it.
She’d been talking to afriend, Brian, and things had seemed calm, until after Brian had left.Jake’s mother shifted her feet.”What’s wrong, Jake? I really don’t understand. If you don’t tell me, how can Ipossibly help you? Please just tell me…””You know exactly what youdid!” Jake shouted, his voice breaking.”I honestly have no idea.
” Hereyes pleaded with him, but this went unregistered by Jake.”I’ll make sure you’re sorryfor treating me like that!” Jake stormed out of the room and up to his bedroom.His mother, Gloria, stood inthe living room, absolutely flabbergasted. She heard Jake slam his bedroomdoor. He began to cry, but was still almost shouting through his tears,”Why’d she do that? Why doesn’tshe give a toss about me? Why doesn’t she care? She knows what she did – shecan pretend she doesn’t, but she knows!” He fell onto his bed, eyesopen, staring up at the ceiling. His room smelled of socks that hadn’t beenwashed for too long, lingering stale sweat, and that weird, non-specific “boy’sbedroom” smell.
He ignored it all.The house was silent. In thatquietness, it felt as though there was nothing but Jake and the world – and itwas as if the entire world was fighting against him.”She’ll be sorry!” he cried.
“She’ll be sorry when her son runs away. Let’s see how she feels then!”He sat up and dangled and hisfeet off the edge of the bed.”She probably won’t care,actually,” he said quietly. “Well then it’s good for both of us – she won’thave her son any more, and I won’t have to put up with being hurt by her.”He stood up, then gathered somethings from around his room – some clothes, CDs, and some crisps and chocolatefor snacking on. He threw them into a bag. He pulled on a pair of tracksuitbottoms and a T-shirt, threw on a jacket, grabbed his bag, and thundereddownstairs.”Jake, what-” his mother started toask, and her tone changed to one of desperation as Jake yanked the front dooropen.
“Jake, where are you going?Jake! Please, don’t go!”Jake responded stormed out ofthe house. His mother rushed after him.”Jake!” she shouted.
“Please!Jake!” She started to cry, but Jake had walked too far away to notice. “Jake.Please.” The words were to herself now. She was trembling. She was too frail torun after him, and just stared as he walked further into the distance. Then shewent back into the house and called 999.
After being connected to thepolice, a male voice spoke to her.”Policeemergency, what’s the nature and location of the emergency?””My son! He’s run away!” Gloriawas breathing rapidly.”Madam, Ineed you to speak clearly and slowly. What’s your son’s name?””Jake,” Gloria replied. “JakeEtcher. Average height, thirteen, brown hair-“”I needyour name and the last place he was seen.”The dispatcher took some moredetails.”Gloria,lots of children run away then return home.
I’m sure Jake will return soonafter being without his mum for a bit.””He won’t,” Gloria insisted. “He’sgot a mental health problem. When he gets emotional, it’s really hard to gethim back out of that state. Jake might be miles away soon!””If he’sstill not back in 24-hours, give us a call back.
“”What?! You’re not meant towait 24-hours now! And he’s not just missing, he ran away! They say the firstfour hours are most important!”The operator’s tone becamecurt.”Don’ttell me how to do my job.””Well someone bloody well hasto if you won’t do it properly!” Gloria’s voice quietened as she added “Please helpmy boy.” ***Jake had walked quite far fromhis home. Tears drenched his face and shone in the sun.
As he was so deep inhis own emotions, he didn’t notice any of the sights, smells, or sounds – a manworking on his old three-wheeler car, petrol fumes, or the litter blowingaround the almost-empty street.”She said to go away, so nowshe gets what she wanted,” he said to himself. Something inside him seemed totry to get him to reconsider his view, but he pushed it down. “Not only that,she laughed at me as well.” His breath was interspersed with little gasps andsniffles.
“She doesn’t want me anymore.”He reached a bus stop and satdown on the plastic seat. Someone had smashed the advertising pane, so there wasglass on the floor. He could now smell the exhaust fume of the odd car. The lowhum of an engine occasionally drifted to his ears as he sat in silence.
He felt like his world had beenripped away from him.A bus approached the stop, andJake bowed his head to try to hide his tears. Lots of passengers seemed to getoff the bus, and once they had gone, Jake laughed derisively. There had been somany people, but he felt so alone.After some time, he was awareof a presence to his right. He glanced up and saw, at the side of the shelter,a man in top-brand clothes, wearing a baseball cap. Jake sensed that there wassomething “off”, something not quite right about him, but he didn’t have thecourage to just get up and leave, even though he knew it would have been anon-event to a stranger.
.”Alright our kid.” The man’saccent was strong. He sounded like he was from Manchester.”Hi,” Jake replied. For somereason, the man grinned slightly. Jake turned his head away and most of therest of the conversation continued with him looking out into the road.
“Are you waitin’ for a bus?”the man asked. “Or chillin’?””Bus.””Crap round ‘ere innit? Youwait ages for one and it dunt even turn up on time.
“Jake nodded. The man movedcloser. He reeked of terrible aftershave.”Listen, our kid,” he said, “Idon’t care if you’ve ran away from home or sumat, it’s none of me business. ButI know how you can make some easy dosh.”Jake didn’t know why, butsomething about what this man said disturbed him. He hadn’t said anythinginappropriate, but he just felt creepy, somehow.
But Jake knew he’d need to buyfood if he was going to be on the streets, so the mention of “easy dosh”appealed to him.”How do I make it?” Jake asked.”Do you like girls?” the manasked. It was a strange question, but Jake nodded anxiously.
“Good. You canmake some money easily then. I bet you’re a virgin, innit?”Jake’s laugh in response wasunconvincing. He tried to sound casual.
“‘Course not, I’m not avirgin.”The man grinned.”You are a virgin.” He seemedconvinced.
“But it’s alright mate, you don’t have to be embarrassed or owt.Some birds love virgins.” Jake said nothing.
“Get up and follow me, our kid.”The man started to walk away,then stopped. Jake hesitated.”Are you coming, our kid? Easybread, or sit on your bill. You choose mate.”Jake got up and went over tothe man.
He threw an arm around Jake’s shoulder and led him up a road thatturned off from the main one. Hedges lined the pavement on either side andmottled sunlight decorated the ground. Jake suddenly felt like someone waswatching him, but when he tried to turn his head, the man gripped him moretightly and spoke to him again, distracting him.”You don’t have to be nervous,kid.”They entered an old, run-downbuilding and the man led the way down some stairs.
Jake could run – there was nobodyblocking his path to the front door. His instincts were telling him to get outof there – fast. But he was scared of making the man angry. He followed himinto the room.
The room had a musty smell andwas very dusty. There was a single light hanging from the ceiling. A doublemattress was on the floor with a faded sheet on top of it. It looked like somesort of seedy brothel room.”This is what you’re going todo,” said a voice from behind him. Jake couldn’t place the accent, but hisdiction was clearer than the first man’s.
“You’re going to fuck Melissa.”For the first time sinceentering the room, Jake noticed a girl stood in the far, dark corner of theroom, away from the bed. She was naked. She seemed to be Jake’s age. She wasn’tsmiling.”When you’ve shagged her, wegive you some money,” the man added.
“Easy.”Blake pulled nervously at the sleevesof his jacket.”Howcome?” he asked. “I meanwhat do you get–””Never mind that!” the mansnapped. “No questions – you want some money, me and… Bob… here want you tofuck Melissa.
Simple as that.”For a moment, there wassilence. Jake looked around. There was no window; only one way out and the twomen were stood in front of it. A siren sounded in the distance and as itquickly faded, Jake knew it wasn’t coming to save him.
“He’s a virgin,” the first mansaid. “Probably shy.”The second man’s eyes seemed tolight up.”A virgin eh? Then you’ll loveit, so shut up and get on with it.
“”Um I’m not so sure about it,”Jake said.”Melissa wants to do it, don’tyou, Melissa?” The girl didn’t respond. “Well you know what’s going to happenif you’re not cooperative. You know what to do.”Melissa walked over to the bedand lay on it, her legs spread.
Jake naturally couldn’t help staring, but thenhe noticed Melissa’s face. It was devoid of emotion. Numb.
It was as though shewas dead inside. Jake could tell she didn’t want to do this, and anger roseinside him.”Fuck you!” he shouted, thentried to force his way past the men, but he was thrown onto the bed.”I’ll get the equipment,” said”Bob”, and left the room. The second held Jake to the bed. He tried to fightback, but the man was too strong. A battery of punches easily subdued him.
“Please, no,” Jake begged asthe man begin to remove the boy’s clothes. When he had managed to strip Blaketo his tracksuit bottoms, Jake began to cry. The man laughed and yanked themoff.
“I’m sorry, mum,” Jake saidquietly. The man either didn’t hear or ignored it. He began to pull Jake’sboxer shorts off.A loud bang distracted him. Itwas followed by shouts of “Police! Remain where you are!” followed by loud,fast footsteps on the staircase. Officers burst into the room. The man tried tofight them but was quickly overpowered and arrested.
Jake could hear the otherman being arrested outside. A woman with ginger hair entered the room, andMelissa rushed towards her.”Mum!” she shouted. They huggedeach other tightly. Jake’s mother then entered the room and hugged her son. Hehugged her back and explained at last. When his mother had been talking to Brianearlier, and Jake had wanted something, she’d told Jake to go away.
His motherexplained that she had only been joking, and didn’t realise Jake had taken itseriously. He cried and apologised.”It’s alright, Jake,” saidGloria.
“I’m just glad you’re safe.” It transpired that when Jakehad felt like he was being followed earlier, he had been correct. When Melissahad gone missing some time ago, a girl called Sammy had noticed a suspiciousman hanging around. When Jake had ran off, Sammy saw the same man talking toJake, so she’d followed the pair. She then told Jake’s mother, who called thepolice again. They rushed to the building, broke in (the first man had lockedthe front door when he’d left to get “the equipment”), and arrested the men. Itemerged that Melissa had been pressured into having sex, which had beensecretly filmed. The men had threatened to sharethe film with Melissa’s friends and family if she didn’t keep doing as they wanted,so Melissa was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
The tape was found anddestroyed, and the men were imprisoned for many years. The children werehappily reunited with their parents and lived happily ever after.